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vation which perhaps occurs to every man that sees
or hears of military glories 2 Tully observes of Achilles, that had not Homer
written, his valour had been without praise:
Nisi Ilias illa eactitisset, idem tumulus qui corpus ejus contezerat, momen ejus obruisset.
Unless the Iliad had been published, his name had been lost in the tomb that covered his body. Horace tells us with more energy that there were brave men before the wars of Troy, but they were lost in oblivion for want of a poet:
Viacere fortes ante Agamemnoma
Before great Agamemnon reign'd,
Tully inquires, in the same oration, why, but for fame, we disturb a short life with so many fatigues?
Quid est quod in hoc tum exiguo vitae curriculo et tam brevi, tantis nos in laboribus exercéamus?
Why in so small a circuit of life should we employ ourselves in so many fatigues? Horace inquires in the same manner,
Quid brevi fortes jaculamur aevo
Why do we aim, with eager strife,
when our life is of so short duration, why we form such numerous designs Z But Horace, as well as 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 successors, and to be the right of every one that has art to pluck them without injuring their colours or their fragrance. 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
The pow'rs of vengeance, while they hear,
Thy stone, O Sysiphus, stands still,
Ixion rests upon the wheel,
The furies sink upon their iron beds. Pope.
Tandem, vincimur, arbiter
Subdu'd at length, Hell's pitying monarch cry'd,
He sung; and hell consented
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 :
Sape pater dirit, studium quid inutile tentas?
Sponte sua carmen numeros veniebat ad aptos,
Quit, quit this barren trade, my father cry’d:
I left no calling for this idle trade;
—This plain floor,
This modest stone, what few vain marbles can,
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,
Unica lua saecli, genitoris gloria, memo
The age's miracle, his father's joy! Nor old you would pronounce him, nor a boy. F. LEwis. And Prior was indebted for a pretty illustration to Alleyne's poetical history of Henry the Seventh:
For nought but light itself, itself can shew,
Your musick's pow'r your musick must disclose, For what light is, 'tis only light that shews. PRIoR. And with yet more certainty may the same writer be censured, for endeavouring the clandestine appropriation of a thought which he borrowed,
As not every instance of similitude can be considered 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 judgment 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.
No. 144. SATURDAY, AUGUST 3, 1751
The bow of Daphnis and the shafts you broke;
T is impossible to mingle in conversation without
observing the difficulty with which a new name
makes its way into the world. The first appearance
of excellence unites multitudes against it; unex
pected opposition rises up on every side; the