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limits of human reason : 2. of those arts and sciences, and the parts of them which are useful, and therefore attainable ; together with those which are useless, 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 ; together with the several modes of religious worship, so far as they affect society ; between which the author always supposed there was the closest connexion and the most interesting relation : 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 circumstances, 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 favorite work, which more exactly reflected the image of his own strong and capacious mind, and as we can have but a very imperfect idea of it from the disjecta membra poeta 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 considers him, in general, under every one 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 re-assume 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 are detached portions ; the first two, on the characters of men and women, being the introductory part of this concluding book.'
ARGUMENT OF EPISTLE I.
I. That it is not sufficient for this knowlege to consider man
in the abstract: books will not serve the purpose, nor yet our own experience singly, ver. 1. General maxims, unless they be formed on both, will be but notional, v. 10. Sonce 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, or inconsistent, v. 51. The same man utterly different in different places and seasons, v.71. Unimaginable weaknesses in the greatest, v. 77, &c. Nothing constant and certain but God and nature, 7.95. No judging of the motives from the actions; the same actions proceeding from contrary motives, and the same motives influencing contrary actions, v. 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 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. 141. Education alters the nature, or at least the character, of many, v. 149. Actions, passions, opinions, manners, humors, or principles, all subject to change. No judging by nature, from v. 158 to 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, v. 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 knowlege of mankind, v. 210. Examples of the strength of the ruling passion, and its continuation to the last breath, v. 222, &c.