صور الصفحة
PDF
النشر الإلكتروني

-1

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

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 !
Quit, О quit this mortal frame!
Trembling, hoping, ling'ring, flying,
O! the pain, the bliss of dying!
Hark! they whisper-Angels say,
Sifter fpirit, come away!

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,
Full of forrow, full of anguish,
Fainting, gasping, trembling, crying,
Panting, groaning, speechless, dying!
Methinks I hear fome gentle spirit say,
Be not fearful, come away!

FLATMAN.

Palingenius Palingenius and Charron furnished him with the two following thoughts in the Efsay on Man:

Superior beings, when of late they faw
A mortal man unfold all nature's law;
Admir'd such wisdom in an earthly shape,
And shew'd a Newton, as we thew an ape.

PoPE.

Utque movit nobis imitatrix fimia risum,
Sic nos coeicolis, quoties cervice superba

Ventos gradimur
And again,

Simia cælicolúm, risusque jocufque deforum efl
Tunc homo, quum temerè ingenio confidit, & audet
Abdila naturæ fcrutari, arcanaque divúm-

PALINGENIUS.

While man exclaims, " see all things for my .

use!" “ See man for mine !" replies a pamper'd goose.

РОРЕ. .

vens

“ 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."

CHARRON.

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

When the loose mountain trembles from on high,
Shall gravitation cease if you go by?
Or some old temple nodding to its fall,
For Chartres' head reserve the hanging wall?

Popi.

1

“ If a good man be passing 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 ?"

WOLLASTON.

Chaos of thought and passion all confus'd,
Still by himself abus'd, or disabus'd;
Created half to rise, and half to fall;
Great lord of all things, yet a prey to all;
Sole judge of truth, in endless error hurl'd,
The glory, jest, and riddle of the world.

Pope.

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 “ earth! the great depofitary and guardian of truth, " and yet a mere huddle of uncertainty! the glory and “ the scandal of the universe !"

PASCAL.

The witty allusion to the punishment of avarice, in the Epistle on Riches,

Damn to the mines, an equal fate betides
The llave that digs it, and the flave that hides;

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 slaves 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 epiftle, concludes, is the property of Bruyere.

a

To rock the cradle of repofing age,

[ocr errors]

is a tender and eleganr image of filial piety, for which
Pope is indebted to Montagne, who wishes, in one of
his essays, to find a fon-in-law that may “ kindly che-
“ rith his old age, and rock it alleep.” And the cha-
racter of Helluo the glutton, introduced to exemplify
the force and continuance of the ruling paffion, who in
the agonies of death exclaimed,

Then bring the Jowl!
is taken from that tale in Fontaine, which ends,

Puis qu'il faut que je meure
Sans faire tant de façon,

Qu'on m'apporte tout à l'heure
Le reste de mon poison.

[ocr errors]

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 fay,
Striking their pensive bofoms-here lies Gay,

ito

« السابقةمتابعة »