Page images

Just brought out this, when scarce his tongue

could stir, “ If---where I'm going--- I could serveyou, Sir?”

“ I give and I devise” (old Euclio said, 256 And figh’d) “ my lands and tenements to Ned.” Your money, Sir ? "

My money, Sir, what all ? Why,---if I must--(then wept) I give it Paul.” The Manor, Sir ?---" The Manor ! hold,” he

cry'd, « Not that -- I cannot part with that”--and dy'd.

And you! brave COBHAM, to the latest breath, Shall feel your ruling passion strong in death : Such in those moments as in all the past ! « Oh, save my Country, Heav'n!” shall be your



author had the goodness not to mention the names. Several attribute this in particular to a very celebrated Actress, who, in detestation of the thought of being buried in woollen, gave these her last orders with ber dying breath. P.

VER. 255.) A Pawnbroker of Paris, in his last agonies, observing that the Priest, as usual, presented a little Silver Crucifix before his eyes, mistook it for a pawn; and had just strength enough left to say, Alas! I can afford but a small matter upon that.







Of the Characters of Women. OTHING fo true as what you once let fall,

Most Women have no Characters at all." Matter too soft a lasting mark to bear, And best distinguish'd by black, brown, or fair.

NOT E S. Of the Characters of Women.] There is nothing in Mr. Pope's works more highly finished, or written with greater spirit, than this Epistle: Yet its success was in no proportion to the pains he took in composing it, or the effort of genius displayed in adorning it. Something he chanced to drop in a short advertisement prefixed to it, on its first publication, may perhaps account for the small attention the Public gave to it. He said, that no one Character in it was drawn from the Life. They believed him on his word; and expressed little curiosity about a fatire in which there was nothing personal.

VER. I. Nothing so true, &c.] The reader, perhaps, may be disappointed to find that this epifle, which proposes the

How many pictures of one Nymph we view, 5
All how unlike each other, all how true!

[ocr errors]

fame subject with the preceding, is conducted on very differ-
ent rules of composition ; for instead of being disposed in the
fame logical method, and filled with the like philosophical
remarks, it is wholly taken up in drawing a great variety of
capital characters: But if he would reflect, that the two
Sexes make but one Species, and consequently, that the charac-
ters of both must be studied and explained on the same prin-
ciples, he would see, that when the Poet had done this in
the preceding epistle, his business here was, not to repeat
what he had already delivered, but only to verify and illus-
trate his doctrine, by every view of that perplexity of Nature,
which his philosophy only can explain. If the reader there-
fore will but be at the pains to study these characters with
any degree of attention, as they are drawn with a force of
wit, sublimity, and true poetry never hitherto equalled, one
important particular (for which the Poet has artfully prepared
him by the introduction) will very forcibly strike his observa
tion; and that is, that all the great strokes in the several cha:
racters of Women are not only infinitely perplexed and dif-
cordant, like those in Men, but absolutely inconsistent, and in
a much higher degree contradictory. Aš strange as this may
appear; yet he will see that the Poet has all the while strictlg
followed 'Nature, whose ways, we find by the former epistle,
are not a little mysterious ; and a mystery this might have re-
mained, had not our Author explained it at Ver. 207, where
he shuts up his characters with this philofophical reflection :

" In Men, we various ruling Paffions find';
“ In Women, tivo almost divide the kind;
" Those, only fix'd, they first or laft obey,

“ The love of Pleafure, and the love of Sway."
If this account be true, we see the perpetual necessity (which
is not the cafe in Men) that IV omen lie under of disguising their
ruling Pation. Now the variety of arts employed to this pur-
pose, must needs draw them into infinite contradictions, even
in those atlions from whence their general and obvious cha-
racter is denominated : To verify this observation, let the

Arcadia's Countess, here, in ermin'd pride,
Is there, Pastora by a fountain fide.

NOTES. reader examine all the characters here drawn, and try whether, with this key, he cannot discover that all their contradictions arise from a desire to hide the ruling Paffion.

But this is not the worst. The Poet afterwards (from Ver. 218 to 249.) takes notice of another mischief arising from this Decessity of hiding their ruling Passions; which is, that generally the end of each is defeated, even there where they are most violently pursued : For the necessity of hiding them inducing an habitual dissipation of mind, Reason, whose office it is to regulate the ruling Passion, loses all its force and direction; and these unhappy victims to their principles, though with their attention fill fixed upon them, are ever prosecuting the means destructive of their end ; and thus become ridiculous in youth, and miserable in old age.

Let me not omit to observe the great beauty of the conclusion: It is an encomium on an imaginary Lady, to whom the epistle is addressed; and artfully turns upon the fact which makes the subject of the epistle, the contradiction of a Woman's character; in which contradiction, he shews, all the lustre even of the best character confifts :

“ And yet, believe me, good as well as ill, 6 Woman's at best a contradiction still,” &c.

VER. 5. How many pictures] The Poet's purpose here is to shew, that the characters of Women are generally inconsistent with themselves : and this he illustrates by so happy a similitude, that we see the folly, described in it, arises from that very principle which gives birth to this inconsistency of cha. racter.

Ver. 7, 8, 10, &c. Arcadia's Countess,-Pastora by a foun. tain,--Leda with a fwan,--Magdalen, --Cecilia.-) Attitudes in which several ladies affected to be drawn, and sometimes one lady in them all.—The Poet's politeness and complai, fance to the sex is observable in this instance, amongst others, that, whereas in the Characters of Men, he has sometimes made use of real names, in the Characters of Women always Setitious. P,

« PreviousContinue »