« VorigeDoorgaan »
writers are not here included) have shewn a profound knowledge of man ; and
many pourtraits of Addison may be compared with the most finished touches of LA BRUYERE. But the Epistles we are now entering upon will place the matter beyond a dispute; for the French can boast of no author who has so much exhausted the science of morals, as Pope has in these five Epistles. They indeed contain all that is folid and valuable in the above-mentioned French writers, of whom our author was remarkably fond : But whatever observaz tions he has borrowed from them, he has made his own by the dexterity of his appli« cation.
1. Men may be read, as well as books, too much.
“ STUDY life;" cry the unlettered med of the world: but that world cannot be known' merely by that study alone. The dread of pedantry is a characteristic folly of the present age.
We adopted it from the French, without considering the reasons that give rise to it among that people: the
religious, and particularly the Jesuits, perceiving that a taste for learning began widely to diffuse itself among the laity, could find no surer method of repressing it, than by treating the learned character as ridiculous. This ridicule was carried so far, that, to mention one instance out of ten thousand, the publisher of La Rochfoucault's maxims makes a grave apology in form, for quotiòg Seneca in Latin.
2. At half mankind, when gen'rous Manly raves,
All know 'tis virtue, for he thinks them kaaves
The character alluded to is the principal one in the Plain Dealer of Wycherly, a comedy taken from the Misanthrope of Moliere, but much inferior to the original. Alcestes has not that bitterness of spirit, and has much more humanity and honour than Manly. Writers transfuse their own characters into their works : Wycherly was a vain and profligate libertine; Mo. Tiere was beloved for his candour, sweetness of temper and integrity. It is re
markable that the French did not relish this incomparable comedy for the three first representations. The strokes of its Gatire were too subtle and delicate to be felt by the generality of the audience, who expected only the gross diversion of laughing; so that at the fourth time of its being acted, the author was forced to add to it one of his coarseit farces; but Boileau ia the mean time affirmed that it was the capital work of their stage, and that the people would one time be induced to think so.
3. Vathought-of frailties cheat us in the wife
For who could imagine that LOCKE was fond of romances; that NEWTON once studied astrology; that Roger ASCHAM and Dr. WHITBY were devoted lovers of cock-fighting; that Dr. CLARKE valued himself for his agility, and frequently amused himself in a private room of his house in leaping over the tables and chairs : and that our author himself was a great
epicure? cpicure? When he spent a summer with a certain nobleman, he was accostomed to Jie wholc days in bed on account of bus head-achs, but would at any time rise with alacrity, when his servant informed him there were stewed lampreys for dionet. On the eve of an important battle, thic Duke of MARLBOROUGH was heard chiding his servant for having been so extravagant as to light four candles in his tent, when Prince Eugene came to confer with hin.. ELIZABETH was a coquet,+ and Bacon received a bribe. Dr. Busby had a violent passion for the stage; it was excited in him by the applauses he received io acting the Royal Slave before the King at Christ-Church ; and he declared, that if the rebellion had not broke out, he had certainly engaged himself as an actor. LoTHER was so immoderately passionate, that be sometimes bosed MELANCTHON's ears; and MELAXCTHON himself was a believer in judicial astrology, and an interpreter of dreams. RichLIEU and MAZARIN were so superstitious as to employ and pengon
MORIN, a pretender to astrology, who cast
Alone, in company, in place, or out;
The unexpected inequalities of our minds and tempers are here exhibited in a lively manner, and with a perfect knowledge of nature. I cannot forbear placing before the reader Tully's pourtrait of Cataline, whose inconGistencies and varieties of conduct are thus enumerated :
• Ver. 71.