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who profess an art whose effence is imitation, muft 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. Descriptions, therefore, that are faithful and just, must be uniform and alike : the first copier must be, perhaps, entitled to the praise of priority; but a succeeding one ought not certainly to be condemned for plagiarism.
I am inclined to think, that notwithstanding the manifold alterations diffused in modern times over the face of nature, by the invention of arts and manufactures, by the extent of commerce, by the improvements of philo. sophy and mathematics, by the manner of fortifying and fighting, by the important discovery of both the Indies, and above all, by the total change of religion; yet an epic or dramatic writer, though surrounded with such a multitude of novelties, would find it difficult or impossible to be totally original, and effentially different from Homer and Sophocles. The causes that excite and the operations that exemplify the greater passions, will always have an exact coincidence, though perhaps a little diversified by climate or custom: every exasperated hero must
rage like Achilles, and every afflicted widow mourn like Andromache: an abandoned Armida will make use of Dido's execrations; and a Jew will nearly resemble a Grecian, when almost placed in the same situation ; that is, the Ioas of Racine in his incomparable Athalia, will be very like the Ion of Euripides.
Boileau observes, that a new and extraordinary thought is by no means: a thought which no.peason ever conceived before, or could possibly conceive; on the coatrary, it is such a thought as must have occurred
to every man in the like case, and have been one of the first in any person's mind upon the same occasion : and it is a maxim of Pope, that whatever is very good sense must have been common sense at all times.
But if from the foregoing reflections it may appear difficult, to distinguish imitation and plagiarism from neceifary resemblance and unavoidable analogy, yet the following passages of Pope, which, because they have never been taken notice of, may possibly entertain curious and critical readers, feem evidently to be borrowed, though they are improved.
The dying Christian addresses his soul with a fine fpirit of poetical enthusiasm.
Vital spark of heavenly flame !
I was surprised to find this animated paffage closely copied from one of the vile Pindaric writers in the time of Charles the second :
When on my fick bed I languish,
Palingenius and Charron furnished him with the two following thoughts in the Efsay on Man:
Superior beings, when of late they faw
Utque movit nobis imitatrix fimia risum,
Simia cælicolúm, risusque jocufque deforum efl
While man exclaims, " see all things for my .
use!" “ See man for mine !" replies a pamper'd goose.
“ Man fcruples not to say, that he enjoyeth the hea.
and the elements; as if all had been made, and • ftill move only for him. In this fenfe a gosling may
fay as much, and perhaps with more truth and just16. ness."
That he hath borrowed not only sentiments but even expressions from a Wollaston and Pascal cannot be doubted, if we consider two more passages :
When the loose mountain trembles from on high,
“ If a good man be pafling by an infirm building, just " in the article of falling ; can it be expected that " GOD should suspend the force of gravitation till he “ is gone by, in order to his deliverance ?"
Chaos of thought and passion all confus'd,
66 What a chimera then is man! what a confused e chaos! what a subject of contradi&tion! a professed
judge of all things, and yet a feeble worm of the 6 earth! the great depofitary and guardian of truth, “ and yet a mere huddle of uncertainty! the glory and “i the scandal of the universe !"
The witty allusion to the punishment of avarice, in the Epistle on Riches,
Damn to the mines, an equal fate betides
is plainly taken from, “ The causes of the decay of " Christian piety," where that excellent and neglected writer says, “ It has always been held the feverest treat“ment of flaves and malefactors," damnare ad metalla,
to force them to dig in the mines : now this is the covetous man's lot, from which he is never to expect
release.” Cowley has also used the same allusion. The celebrated reflection with which Charteres's epi. taph, in the same epistle, concludes, is the property of Bruyere.
To rock the cradle of repofing age,
is a tender and eleganr image of filial piety, for which
Then bring the Jowl!
Puis qu'il faut que je meure
Qu'on m'apporte tout à l'heure
The conclusion of the epitaph on Gay, where he ob. serves that his honour consists not in being entombed among kings and heroes,
But that the worthy and the good may say,