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IN FOUR EPISTLES
TO SEVERAL PERSONS.
Est brevitate opus, ut currat sententia, neu se
of the Knowledge and Characters of Men.
THAT it is not sufficient for this knowledge to consider Man in
the Abstract: Books will not serve the purpose, nor get our own Experience singly, ver. I. General maxims, unless they be formed upon both, will be but notional, ver. 10. Some peculiarity in every man, characteristic to himself, yet varying from himself, ver. 15. Difficulties arising from our own Passions, Fancies, Faculties, &c. ver. 31. The sbortness of Life, to observe in, and she uncertainty of the Principles of Action in men, to observe by, ver. 37, &c. Our own Principle of Action often bid from ourselves, ver. 41. Some few characters plain, but in general confounded, dissembled, or inconsistent, ver. 51. The same man utterly different in different places and seasons, ver. 71. Unimaginable weaknesses tbe greatest, ver. 77, &c. Nothing constant certain but God and Nature, ver. 95. No judging of the Mo. tives from the actions; the same actions proceeding from contrary Motives, and the same Motives influencing contrary, actions, ver.
II. Yet to form Characters, we can only take the strongest actions of a man's life, and try to make them agree: Tbe utter uncertainty of this, from Nature itself, and
from Policy, ver. I 20. Characters given according to the rank of men of the world, ver. 135. And some reason for it, ver. 141. Education alters the Nature, or at least the Character, of many, ver. 149. Actions Passions, Opinions, Manners, Humours, or Principles, all subjeet to change. No judging by Nature, from ver. 158 to 174. III. It only remains to find (if we can) bis RULING PASSION : That will certainly influence all the rest, and can reconcile the seeming or real inconsistency of all his actions, ver. 175. Instanced in the extrordinary character of Clodio, ver. 179. A caution against mistaking second qualities for first, which will destroy all possibility of the knowledge of mankind, ver. 210. Examples of the strength of the Ruling Passion, and its continuation ta tbe last breath, ver. 222, &c.