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Tully, might discover that records are needful to preserve the memory of actions, and that no records were so durable as poems; either of them might find out that life is short, and that we consume it in unnecessary labour.
There are other flowers of fiction so widely scattered and so easily cropped, that it is scarcely just to tax the use of them as an act by which any particular writer is despoiled of his garland; for they may be said to have been planted by the ancients in the open road of poetry for the accommodation of their fucceffors, and to be the right of every one that has art to pluck them without injuring their colours or their fragance. The passage of Orpheus to hell, with the recovery and second loss of Eurydice, have been described after Boetius by Pope, in such a manner as might justly leave him suspected of imitation, were not the images such as they might both have derived from more ancient writers.
Quæ fontes agitant metu
The pow'rs of vengeance, while they hear,
Thy stone, O Sysiphus, stands still,
And the pale spectres dance !
Tandem, vincimur, arbiter
Emtam carmine, conjugem.
To hear the poet's prayer ;
And gave him back the fair.
Vidit, perdidit, occidit.
yet the golden verge of day begun,
Eurydice to life restor'd,
No writer can be fully convicted of imitation, except there is a concurrence of more resemblance than can be imagined to have happened by chance; as where the same ideas are conjoined without any natural series or necessary coherence, or where not only the thought but the words are copied. Thus it can scarcely be doubted, that in the first of the following passages Pope remembered Ovid, and that in the second he copied Crashaw.
Sæpe pater dixit, studium quid inutile tentas ?
Moonides nullas ipfe reliquit opes --
Quit, quit this barren trade, my father cry'd ;
May truly fay, Here lies an honest man. Pope, Conceits, or thoughts not immediately impressed by sensible objects, or necessarily arising from the coalition or comparison of common sentiments, may be with great justice suspected whenever they are found a second time. Thus Waller probably owed to Grotius an elegant compliment.
Here lies the learned Savil's heir,
Thought her a child, or thought her old. WALLER.
And Prior was indebted for a pretty illustration to Alleyne's poetical history of Henry the seventh.
For nought but light itself, itself can show,
And with yet more certainty may the fame writer be censured, for endeavouring the clandestine ap- . propriation of a thought which he borrowed, surely without thinking himself disgraced, from an epigram of Plato.
Τη Παφίη το κάτοπτρον έσει τοίη μέν οράσθαι
As not every instance of fimilitude can be confidered as a proof of imitation, so not every
imitation ought to be stigmatized as plagiarism. The adoption of a noble sentiment, or the insertion of a borrowed ornament, may sometimes display so much judgmeat as will almost compensate for invention; and an inferior genius may,
without any imputation of servility, pursue the path of the ancients, provided he declines to tread in their footsteps.
NUMB. 144. SATURDAY, August 3, 1751.
The boy of Daphnis and the shafts you broke ;
T is impossible to mingle in conversation with
out observing the difficulty with which a new name makes its way into the world. The first appearance of excellence unites multitudes against it; unexpected opposition rises up on every side; the celebrated and the obscure join in the confederacy; subtilty furnishes arms to impudence, and invention leads on credulity.
The strength and unanimity of this alliance is not easily conceived. It might be expected that no man fhould suffer his heart to be inflamed with malice, but by injuries; that none should busy himself in contesting the pretensions of another, but when some right of his own was involved in the question; that at least hoftilities commenced without cause, should quickly cease; that the armies of malignity should soon disperse, when no common interest could be found to hold them together ; and that the attack upon a rising character should be