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Hark! they whisper! angels say,

Sifter fpirit, come away!

I AM fenfible of the difficulty of diftinguishing resemblances from thefts; and of what a late critic has urged, that a want of feeming originality arifes frequently, not from a barrenness and timidity of genius, but from invincible neceffity, and the nature of things that the works of those who profess an art, whose effence is imitation, must needs be stamped with a close resemblance to each other, fince the objects material or animate, extraneous or internal, which they all imitate, lie equally open to the obfervation of all, and are perfectly fimilar. Defcriptions therefore that are faithful and juft, MUST BE UNIFORM AND ALIKE; the firft copier may be perhaps entitled to the praise of priority, but a fucceeding one ought not certainly to be condemned for plagiarism.

THESE general obfervations however true, do not, I think, extend to the case before us, because not only the thoughts, but even the

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words are copied; and because the images, especially the last, are fuch, as are not immediately impreffed by fenfible objects, and which therefore, on account of their SINGULARITY, did not lie in common for any poet to feize. Let us however moderate the matter, and fay, what perhaps is the real fact, that POPE fell into the thoughts of Flatman unawares, and without defign; and having formerly read him, imperceptibly adopted this paffage, even without knowing that he had borrowed it. That this will frequently happen, is evident from the following curious particulars related by Menage, * which, because much has been faid of late on this head by many writers of criticism, I shall here infert. "I have often heard M. Chapelain, "and M. Dandilly declare, that they wrote "the following line,"

D'arbires de la paix, de foudres de la


without knowing it was in Malherbe; and the moment I am making this remark, recollect

* Anti-baillet. tom. II. 208,


that the fame thing happened to M. Furetiere. I have often heard Corneille declare, that he inserted in his Polyeucte, two celebrated lines concerning fortune, without knowing they were the property of M. Godeau bishop of Vence;

Et comme elle a l' eclat du Verre
Elle en a la fragilitè-

GODEAU had inserted them in an ode to Cardinal Richleiu, fifteen years before Polyeucte was written. Porphyry in a fragment of his book on Philology, quoted by Eufebius, in the tenth book of his Evangelical preparation, makes mention of an author named Aretatedes, who compofed an entire treatise on this fort of refemblances. And St. Jerom relates, that his preceptor Donatus, explaining that fenfible paffage in Terence," Nihil eft dictum quod non "dictum fuit prius," railed feverely at the ancients, for taking from him his best thoughts; "Pereant qui ante nos, noftra "dixerunt."

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MENAGE makes thefe obfervations on occafion of a paffage in the Poetics of Vida, intended to justify borrowing the thoughts and even expreffions of others, which paffage is very applicable to the subject before us:

Afpice ut exuvias, veterumque infignia nobis
Aptemus; rerum accipimus nunc clara reperta,
Nunc feriem atq; animum verborum, verba quoque ipfa ;
Nec pudet interdum alterius nos ore locutos.*

Menage adds, that he intended to compile a regular treatise on the thefts and imitations of the poets. As his reading was very extenfive, his work would probably have been very entertaining. For furely it is no trivial amusement, to trace an applauded sentiment or description to its fource, and to remark, with what judgment and art it is adapted and inferted; provided this be done with such a fpirit of modefty and candour, as evidently fhews, the critic intends merely to gratify

* Lib. 3. v. 255.

Dryden fays prettily of Ben. Johnson's many imitations of the ancients, "You track him every where in their fnow."


curiofity, and not to indulge envy, malignity, and a petulant defire of, dethroning established reputations. Thus for inftance, fays the Rambler," it can fcarcely be doubted, that in the first of the following paffages POPE remembered OVID, and that "in the second he copied CRASHAW, bẹ "cause there is a concurrence of more re"femblances, than can be imagined to "have happened by chance."

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Sæpe pater dixit, ftudium quid inutile tentas ?
Mæonides nullas ipfe reliquit opes —

Sponte fuâ carmen numeros veniebat ad aptos,
Et quod conabar fcribere, verfus erat. OVID.

I left no calling for this idle trade,
No duty broke, no father difobey'd;

While yet a child, e'er yet a fool to fame,
I lifp'd in numbers, for the numbers came. POPE.

This plain floor,

See the fruitlefs and impudent attack of Lauder on Milton.

+ N° 143.

* The Works of Cardinal Bembo, and of Cafa, of Annibal Caro, and Tafso himself, are full of entire lines taken from Dante and Petrarch.


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