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If I am right, thy grace impart,
Still in the right to stay;
If I am wrong, O teach my heart
To find that better way.

Save me alike from foolish pride
Or impious discontent,

At aught thy wisdom has denied,
Or aught thy goodness lent.

Teach me to feel another's woe,
To hide the fault I see.
That mercy I to others show,
That mercy shew to me.

Mean though I am, not wholly so,
Since quicken'd by thy breath.
O lead me, wheresoe'er I go,
Through this day's life or death!

This day be bread and peace my lot:
All else beneath the sun

Thou know'st if best bestow'd or not,
And let thy will be done.

To Thee, whose temple is all space,
Whose altar earth, sea, skies!
One chorus let all being raise!
All nature's incense rise!




Est brevitate opus, ut currat sententia, neu se
Impediat verbis lassas onerantibus aures:
Et sermone opus est modo tristi, sæpe jocoso,
Defendente vicem modo rhetoris atque poetæ,
Interdum urbani parcentis viribus, atque
Extenuantis eas consulto.




HE Essay on Man was intended to have been comprised in four books:

The first of which the author has given us under that title in four epistles.

The second was to have consisted of the same 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, use, 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 satire against the misapplication of them, illustrated by pictures, characters, and examples.

The third book regarded civil regimen, or the science of politics, in which the several forms of a republic were to be examined and explained; toge ther with the several modes of religious worship, as far forth as they effect society: between which the author always supposed there was the most interesting relation and closest connection; 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 prudential 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 poete that now remain, it may not be amiss to be a little more particular 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 to treat 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 learning) may be found in the fourth book of the Dunciad, and up and down, occasionally, in the other three.

The third book, in like manner, was to reassume 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 conceived 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 two first, on the characters of men and women, being the introductory part of this concluding book.





1. That it is not sufficient for this knowledge to consider man in the abstract: books will not serve the purpose, nor yet our own experience singly, v. 1 General maxims, unless they be formed upon both, will be but notional, ". 10. Some peculiarity in every man, characteristic to himself, yet varying from himself, v. 15. Difficulties arising from our own passions, fancies, faculties, &c. v. 31. The shortness of life to observe in, and the uncertainty of the principles of action in men to observe by, v. 37, &c. Our own principle of action often hid from ourselves, v. 41. Some few characters plain, but in general confounded, dissembled, and inconsistent, v. 51. The same man utterly different in different places and seasons, v. 71. Imaginable weaknesses in the greatest, v. 77, &c. Nothing constant and certain but God and Nature, v. 95. No judging of the motives from the actions; the same actions procceding from contrary motives, and the same motives influencing contrary actions, t. 100. II. Yet to forin 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, v. 120. Characters given according to the rank of men of the world, v. 135; and some reason for it, v. 140. Education alters the nature, or at least character, of many, . 149. Actions, passions, opinions, manners, humours, or principles, all subject to change. No judging by nature, v. 158-174. 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 inconsistency of all his actions, r. 175. Instanced in the extraordinary character of Clodio. v. 179. A caution against mistaking second qualities for first, which will destroy all possibility of the knowledge of mankind, v. 210. Examples of the strength of the ruling pas sion, and its continuation to the last breath, v. 222, &c.



Es, you despise the man to books confin'd, Who from his study rails at human-kind;

Though what he learns he speaks, and may advance Some general maxins, or be right by chance.

The coxcomb bird, so talkative and grave,

That from his cage cries cuckold, whore, and knave;
Though many a passenger he rightly call,
You hold him no philosopher at all.

And yet the fate of all extremes is such,

Men may be read, as well as books, too much.
To observations which ourselves we make,
We grow more partial for th' observer's sake;
To written wisdom, as another's, less:

Maxims are drawn from notions, these from guess.
There's some peculiar in each leaf and grain,
Some unmark'd fibre, or some varying vein.



Shall only man be taken in the gross?
Grant but as many sorts of mind as moss.
That each from others differs, first confess;
Next, that he varies from himself no less;
Add nature's, custom's, reason's, passion's strife,
And all opinion's colours cast on life.

Our depths who fathoms, or our shallows finds?
Quick-whirls and shifting eddies of our minds.
On human actions reason though you can,
It may be reason, but it is not man:
His principle of action once explore,



That instant 'tis his principle no more.

Like following life through creatures you dissect,
You lose it in the moment you detect.

Yet more; the difference is as great between

The optics seeing as the objects seen.

All manners take a tincture from our own,

Or come discolour'd through our passions shown; Or fancy's beam enlarges, multiplies,




Contracts, inverts, and gives ten thousand dyes.
Nor will life's stream for observation stay,
It hurries all too fast to mark their way:
In vain sedate reflections we would make,
When half our knowledge we must snatch, not take,
Oft in the passions' wild rotation tost,
Our spring of action to ourselves is lost:
Tir'd, not determin'd, to the last we yield,
And what comes then is master of the field.
As the least image of that troubled heap.
When sense subsides, and fancy sports in sleep,
(Though past the recollection of the thought)
Becomes the stuff of which our dream is wrought;
Something as dim to our internal view
Is thus, perhaps, the cause of most we do.



True, some are open, and to all men known; Others so very close they're hid from none; (So darkness strikes the sense no less than light:) Thus gracious Chandos is beloved at sight; And every child hates Shylock, though his soul 55 Sits still at squat, and peeps not from its hole.

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