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His Principle of action once explore,
Yet more; the diff'rence is as great between
35 Contracts, inverts, and gives ten thousand dyes.
Nor will Life's stream for observation stay, It hurries all too fast to mark their
way: COMMENTARY. VER. 31. Yet more; the difference &c.] Hitherto the poet hath spoken of the causes of difficulty arising from the obscurity of the Object; he now comes to those which proceed from defects in the Observer. The First of which, and a sixth cause of difficulty, he shews (from 39 to 37) is the perverse manners, affections, and imaginations of the observer, whereby the Characters of others are rarely seen either in their true light, complexion, or proportion. Ver. 37. Nor will Life's stream for Observation &c.] The
NOTES. VER. 29. Like following life throcreatures you disest, You lose it in the moment you detect.] This Simile is extremely beautiful. In order to fhew the difficulty of discovering the operations of the heart in a moral sense, he illustrates it by another attempt ftill more difficult, the discovery of its operations in a natural: For the seat of animal life being in the heart, our endeavours of tracing it thither must necessarily drive it from thence.
VER 33. All Manners take a tincture from our own; - Or come discolour'd thro' our Pallions shown.] These two lines are
In vain sedate reflections we wou'd make,
COMMENTARY. Second of these, and seventh cause of difficulty (from y 36 to 41) is the shortness of human life, which will not suffer the observer to select and weigh out his knowledge, but just to snatch it as it rolls rapidly by him down the current of Time.
VER.41. Oft, in the Pasions' &c.] We come now to the eighth and last cause, which very properly concludes the account, as, in a fort, it sums up all the difficulties in one (from * 40 to 51) namely, that very often the man himself is ignorant of his own motive of action ; the cause of which ignorance our author has admirably explain'd; When the mind (says he) is now quite tired out by the long conflict of opposite motives, it withdraws its attention, and suffers the will to be seized upon by the first that afterwards obtrudes itself, without taking notice what that motive is. This is finely illustrated by what he supposes the general cause of dreams ; where the fancy, just let loose, possesses itself of the last image which it meets with on the confines between sleep and waking, and on that erects all its visionary operation; yet this image is, with great difficulty, recollected ; and never, but when some accident happens to interrupt our first slumbers : Then (which proves the truth of the hypothesis) we are sometimes able to trace the workings of the Fancy backwards, from image to image, in a chain, till wo come to that from whence they all arose,
NOTES. remarkable for the exactness and propriety of expression. The word tincture, which implies a weak colour given by degrees, well describes the influence of the Manners; and the word dif colour, which implies a quicker change and by a deeper dye, denotes as well the operation of the Paffions.
As the last image of that troubled heap, 45
True, some are open, and to all men known; .
55 Still fits at squat, and peeps not from its hole.
COMMENTARY. VER. 51. True, some are open, &c.] But now in answer to all this, an objector (from 50 to 61) may say, “ That these “ difficulties seem to be aggravated : For many Characters are « so plainly marked, that no man can mistake them : And not « so only in the more open and frank, but in the closest and « most recluse likewise.” Of each of which the objector gives an instance, whereby it appears, that the forbidding closeness and concealed hypocrisy in the one, are as conspicuous to all mankind, as the gracious openness and frank plain-dealing of
NOTES Ver. 56. - peeps not from its hele.) Which shews that this grave person was content with his present situation; as finding but small satisfaction in what a famous poet reckons one of the great advantages of old age,
The foul's dark cottage, batter'd and decay'd,
At half mankind when gen'rous Manly raves,
60 When Flatt'ry glares, all hate it in a Queen, While one there is who charms us with his Spleen.
But these plain Characters we rarely find; Tho' strong the bent, yet quick the turns of mind : Or puzzling Contraries confound the whole ; 6! Or Affectations quite reverse the soul.
COMMENTARY. the other.--- The Reader secs this objection is more particularly leveld at the doctrine of ý 23.
Our depths who fathoms, and our Mallows finds ? for here it endeavours to prove, that both are equally explorable.
VER. 63. But these plain Characters &c.] To this objection, therefore, our author replies (from * 60 to 67) that indeed the fact may be true in the instances given, but that such plain charaflers are extremely rare : And for the truth of this, he not only appeals to experience, but explains the causes of that perplexed and complicated Character which diffuses itself over the whole species, 1. The First of which is, the vivacity of the imagination ; so that when the bias of the Passions is sufficiently determined to mark out the Character, yet even then, as the vigour of the Fancy generally rises in proportion to the strength of the Appetites, the one no sooner directs the bias, than the other reverses it,
Tho' Arong the bent, yet quick the turns of mind. 2. A Second cause is the contrariety of Appetites, which drawing several ways, as Avarice and Lúxury, Ambition and Indolence, &c. (expressed in the line,
Or puzzling Contraries confound the whole,) they must needs make the same Character inconsistent to itself, and consequently incxplicable to the observer,
The Dull, flat Falshood serves, for policy:
Catius is ever moral, ever grave, Thinks who endures a knave, is next a knave, Save just at dinner --- then prefers, no doubt, A Rogue with Ven’son to a Saint without. 80
COMMENTARY. 3. A Third cause is Affectation, that aspires to qualities, which neither nature nor education has given us, and which, consequently, neither use nor art will ever render graceful or becoming. On this account it is, he well observes,
Or Affectations quite reverse the foul ; natural passions may indeed turn it from that bias which the ruling one has given it; but the affected pasions distort all its faculties, and cramp all its operations; so that it acts with the same constraint that a tumbler walks upon his hands.
Ver, 69. Unthought-of Frailties &c] 4. A Fourth cause lies in the Inequalities in the human mind, which expose the wije to unexpected frailties, and conduct the weak to as unlook'd for wisdom.
Ver. 71. See the same man, &c.] Of all these Four causes he here gives examples: 1. Of the vivacity of the Imagination (from x 71 to 77) - 2. Of the contrariety of Appetites (from * 76 to 81) - 3. Of Affectation (from x 80 to 87) -- and 4. Of the Inequalities of the human mind (from Ý 86 to 95.)