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“ the borrowed sentiment usually wants some “ thing of that perspicuity which always at“ tends the first delivery of it.” This Rule may be considered as the Reverse of the last. A writer, sometimes, takes a pleasure to refine on a plain thought: Sometimes (and that is usually when the original sentiment is well known and fully developed) he does not so much as attempt to open and explain it.
A poet of the last age has the following lines; on the subject of Religion :
Religion now is a young Mistress here,
least; Let it alone awhile, and 't will become A kind of married wife; people will be Content to live with it in quietness. SUCKLING says this in bis Tragedy of Brennoralt; which is a Satire throughout on the rising troubles of that time. BUTLER has taken the thought and applied it on the same occasion : When hard words, jealousies, and fears Set folks together by the ears, And make them fight, like mad or drunk, For dame Religion, as for Punk.
Setting aside the difference between the burlesque and serious style, one easily sees that this sentiment is borrowed from Suckling. It has not the clear and full exposition of an original thought. Butler only represents men as drunk with Religion and fighting for it as for a Punk. The other gives the reason of the Debauch, namely, fondness for a new face; and tells us, besides, how things would subside into peace or indifference on a nearer and more familiar acquaintance. One could expect no less from the Inventor of this humorous thought; a Borrower might be content to allude to it.
XV. This last consideration puts me in mind of another artifice to conceal a borrowed sentiment. Nothing lies more open to discovery than a Simile in form, especially if it be a remarkable one. These are a sort of purpurei panni which catch all eyes; and, if the comparison be not a writer's own, he is almost sure to be detected. The way then that refined Imitators take to conceal themselves, in such a case, is to run the Similitude into Allegory. We have a curious instance in Mr. Pope, who has succeeded so well in the attempt, that his plagiarism, I believe, has never been suspected.
The verses, I have in my eye, are these fine ones, addressed to Lord Bolingbroke, Oh, while along the stream of time thy name Expanded flies, and gathers all it's fame, Say, shall my little Bark attendant sail, Pursue the triumph, and partake the Gale?
What think you, now, of these admired verses ? Are they, besides their other beauties, perfectly original? You will be able to resolve this question, by turning to the following passage in a Poet, Mr. Pope was once fond of, I mean STATIUS, Sic ubi magna novum Phario de litore puppis Solvit iter, jamque innumeros utrinque ru
dentes Lataque veliferi porrexit brachia mali Invasitque vias, in eodem angusta phaselus Æquore, et immensi partem sibi vendicat
But, especially, this other,
-immensæ veluti CONNEXA carinæ CYMBA MINOR, cum sævit hyems, pro parte,
furentes Parva receptat aquas, et EODEM VOLVITUR AUSTRO.
Silv. 1. I. iv. v. 120.
XVI. I release you from this head of Sentiments, with observing that we sometimes conclude a writer to have had a celebrated original in his eye, when “ without copying the “ peculiar thought, or stroke of imagery, he “ gives us only a copy of the impression, it “had made upon him.”
. 1. In delivering this rule, I will not dissemble that I myself am copying, or rather stealing from a great critic: From one, however, who will not resent this theft; as indeed he has no reason, for he is so prodigiously rich in these things, as in others of more value, that what he neglects or flings away, would make the fortune of an ordinary writer. The person I mean is the late Editor of Shakespear, who, in an admirable note on Julius Cæsar, taking occasion to quote that passage of Cato, O think what anxious moments pass between The birth of plots, and their last fatal periods, Oh, 'tis a dreadful interval of time, Fill'd up with horror all, and big with death, observes “ that Mr. Addison was so struck and s affected with the terrible graces of Shake“ spear (in the passage he is there considering) “ that, instead of imitating his author's senti.. « ments, he hath, before he was aware, given
“us only the copy of his own impressions “ made by them. For, Oh, 'tis a dreadful interval of time,
Fill'd up with horror all, and big with death, “ are but the affections raised by such forcible “ images as these,
- All the Intrim is
- The state of man,
The observation is new and finely applied. Give me leave to suppose that the following is an instance of the same nature,
2. Milton on a certain occasion says of Death, that she “ Grinn'd horrible a ghastly smile
P. L. B. II. v. 846.
This representation is supposed by his learned Editor to be taken from Homer, from Statius, or from the Italian poets. A certain friend of ours, not to be named without honour, and therefore not at all on' so slight an