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Who, with herself, or others, from her birth
After x 122. in the MS.
Oppress'd with wealth and wit, abundance fad!
Offend her, and she knows not to forgive ;
Pictures like these, dear Madam, to design, Asks no firm hand, and no unerring line;
This Death decides, nor lets the blesling fall
Notes. Ver. 150. Or wanders, Heav'n-directed, &c.] Alluding and referring to the great principle of his Philosophy, which he never lofes fight of, and which teaches, that Providence is incessantly turning the evils arising from the follies and vices of men to general good.
Some wand'ring touches, some reflected light,
Notes. · VER. 156. Chameleons who can paint in white and black? 1 There 'is one thing that does a very distinguished honour to the accuracy of oầr poet's judgment, of which, in the course of these observations, I have given many instances, and shall here explain in what it consists; it is this, that the Similitudes in his didactic poems, of which he is not sparing, and which are all highly poetical, are always chosen with such exquisite discernment of Nature, as not only to illustrate the particular point he is upon, but to establish the general principles he would inforce; so, in the instance before us, he compares the inconstancy and contradiction in the Characters of Women, to the change of colours in the Chameleon; yet 'tis nevertheless the great principle of this poem to shew that the general Characteristic of the Sex, as to the Ruling Passions, which they all have, is more uniform than that in Man: Now for this purpose, all Nature could not have supplied such another illustration as this of the Chameleon ; for tho' it instantaneously affumes much of the colour of every fubject on which it chances to be placed, yet, as the most accurate Virtuosi have observed, it has two native colours of its own, which (like the two ruling passions in the Sex) amidst all these changes are never totally discharged, but, tho' often discoloured by the neighbourhood of adventitious ones, ftill make the foundation, and give a tincture to all those which, from thence, it occasionally alsumes.
Ver, 157. “ Yet Cloe fure &c.] The purpofe of the poet in this Character is important : It is to shew that the politic or prudent government of the passions is not enough to make a Character amiable, nor even to secure it from being ridiculous, if the end of that government be not pursued, which is the
“ With ev'ry pleasing, ev'ry prudent part,
Say, what can Cloe want?”.--She wants a Heart. She speaks, behaves, and acts just as she ought; 161 But never, never, reach'd one gen'rous Thought, Virtue she finds too painful an endeavour, Content to dwell in Decencies for ever. So very reasonable, so unmov'd,
165 As never yet to love, or to be lov'd. She, while her Lover pants upon her breast, Can mark the figures on an Indian chest; And when she sees her Friend in deep despair, Observes how much a Chintz exceeds Mohair. 170 Forbid it Heav'n, a Favour or a Debt She e'er should cancel---but she may forget, Safe is
Secret still in Cloe's ear; But none of Cloe's shall Of all her Dears she never flander'd one, 175 But cares not if a thousand are undone. Would Cloe know if you're alive or dead? She bids her Footman put it in her head,
you ever hear.
Notes. free exercise of the social appetites after the selfish ones have been fubdued; for that if, tho' reason govern, the heart be never consulted, we interest ourselves as little in the fortune of such a Character, as in any of the foregoing, which passions or caprice drive up and down at random.
Cloe is prudent---Would you too be wise?
One certain Portrait may (I grant) be seen,
NOTES. Ver. 181. One certain Portrait--the same for ever!-) This is intirely ironical, and conveys under it this general moral truth, that there is, in life, no such thing as a perfect Character ; so that the fatire falls not on any particular Character, or Station, but on the Character-maker only. See Note on s 78. i Dialogue 1738.
VER. 198. Mab'met, servant to the late King, faid to be