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· THE MARKS OF IMITATION.
TO MR. MASON.
I HAVE said, in the discourse on Poetical IMITATION, “ that coincidencies of a certain
kind, and in a certain degree, cannot fail to - convict a writer of Imitation a.” You are curious, my friend, to know what these coincidencies are, and have thought that an attempt to point them out would furnish an useful Supplement to what I have written on this subject. But the just execution of this design would require, besides a careful examination of the workings of the human mind, an exact scrutiny of the most original and most imitative writers. And, with all your partiality for me, ean you, in earnest, think me capable of fulfilling the first of these conditions; Or, if I were,
a P. 214,
do you imagine that, at this time o'day, I can have the leisure to perform the other? My younger years, indeed, have been spent in turning over those authors which young men are most fond of; and among these I will not disown that the Poets of ancient and modern fame have had their full share in my affection. But you,
who love me so well, would not wish me to pass more of my life in these flowery regions; which though you may yet wander in without offence, and the rather as you wander in them with so pure a mind and to so moral a purpose, there seems no decent pretence for me to loiter in them any longer.
Yet in saying this I would not be thought to assume that severe character; which, though sometimes the garb of reason, is oftner, believe, the mask of dulness, or of something worse. No, I am too sensible to the charms, nay to the uses of your profession, to affect a contempt for it. The great Roman said well, Haec studia adolescentiam alunt ; senectutem oblectant. We make a full meal of them in Over youth. And no philosophy requires sa