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V ËS, you despise the man to Books confin’d,
1 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.
Epifle of the Knowledge and Characters of Men.) Whoever compares this with the former editions of the Epistle, will observe, that the order and disposition of the several parts are entirely changed and reversed; though with hardly the altération of a single word. When the Editor, at the Author's desire, first examined this epistle, he was surprized to find it contain a number of exquifite obfervations, without order, connection, or dependence : but much more so, when, on ån attentive review, he saw, that if the epistle was put into a different form, on an idea he then conceived, it would have
Moral Ejays.] The Essay ON MAN was intended to have been comprifed in four books:
The First of which, the Author has given us under thať 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 feiences, and the parts of them, which are useful, and therefore attainable; together with those which are unuseful,
The coxcomb bird, so talkative and grave, 5
all the clearness of method and force of connected reasoning. The Author appeared as much struck with the thing as the Editor, and agreed to put the poem into the present order; which has given it all the justness of a true composition. The introduction to the epistle on Riches was in the same condition, and underwent the same reform..
EPISTLE !. This epistle is divided into three principal parts or 'members: The first (from Ver. I to 99.), treats of the difficulties in coming at the Knowledge and true Characters of men. The second (from Ver. 98 to 174.) of the wrong Rieans which both Philosophers and men of the World have employed in surmounting those difficulties. And the third (from
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 satyr against the misapplication of them; illustrated by pictures, characters, and examples.
The third book regarded civil regimen, or the science of po. litics; in which, the several forms of a Republic were to be examined and explained ; together with the several modes of religious worship, so far forth as they affe&t Society ; between which the Author always supposed there was the closest conrection and the most interesting relation. So that this part would have treated of Civil and Religious Society in their full extent.
And yet the fate of all extremes is such, Men may be read, as well as Books, too much. 10
Ver. 173 to the end) treats of the right means; with directions for the application of them.
VER. 1. Yes, you despise the man, &c.] The Epistle is introduced (from Ver. I to 15.) by observing, that the Knowledge of men is neither to be gained by books nor experience alone, but by the joint use of both; for that the maxims of the Philosopher and the conclusions of the man of the World, can, separately, but fupply a vague and superficial knowledge :
NOT E s.
The fourth and last book concerned private ethics, or practical morality; considered in all the circumstances, orders, professions, 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 discouràgements from the de pravity 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 own strong capacious mind, and as we can have but a very imperfect idea of it from the dissecta membra Poetæ, which 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 consi. ders 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 first and fecind epistles of the first book; and to treat of man in his in- . tellectual capacity at large, as has been explained above. Of
To observations which ourselves we make, We grow more partial for th' Observer's fake; To written Wisdom, as another's, less : Maxims are drawn from Notions, those from
often not so much ; as those maxims are founded in the abstract notions of the writer ; and these conclusions are drawn from the uncertain conjectures of the observer : But when the writer joins his speculation to the experience of the observer, his notions are rectified into principles : and when the observer rege lates his experience on the notions of the writer, his conjectures advance into science. Such is the reasoning of this introduc. tion; which, besides its propriety to the general subject 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 true.
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 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 false Governments and Religions should be chiefly delivered in feigned examples.
I he 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 are detached portions: the two first, on the Characters of Men and Women, being the inirodu Elory part of this concluding book.