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wanting to himself on such an occasion. When therefore several motions had been made in the Senate, concerning the honours to be paid to the memory of their late Prince, VALERIUS MESSALLA moved RENOVANDUM PER ANNOS SACRAMENTUM IN NOMEN TIBERII; in other words, that the oath of allegiance should be taken to Tiberius. This was the very point that Tiberius drove at. And the consciousness of it made him suspect that this motion might be thought to proceed from himself. He therefore asked Messalla, “ Num, se mandante, eam “ sententiam promsisset ?" His answer is in the following words. ' " Spontè dixisse, re“ spondit ; neque in iis, quæ ad rempublicam “ pertinerent, consilio nisi suo usurum, vel « cum periculo offensionis.” Ea, concludes the historian, sola species adulandi supererat.
Now it is very remarkable, that we find in Ludlow's memoirs, one of Cromwell's officers, on the very same occasion, answering the Protector in the very same species of flattery.
Colonel William JEPHSON moved in the House that Cromwell might be made King. Cromwell took occasion, soon after, to reprove the Colonel for this proposition, telling him, that he wondered what he could mean by it. To, which the other replied, “ That while he was permitted the honour of sitting in that House, he must desire the liberty to discharge his conscience, though his opinion should happen to displease."
Here we have a very striking coincidence of sentiment, without the least probability of imitation. For no body, I dare say, suspects Colonel William Jephson of stealing this refined stroke of adulation from Valerius Mesşalla. The truth is, the same situation, concurring with the same corrupt disposition, dictated this peculiar sentiment to the two courtiers. Yet, had these similar thoughts been found in two dramatic poets of the Augustan and Oliverian ages, we should probably have cried out, “ An Imitation.”. And with good reason. For, besides the possibility of an Oliverian poet's knowing something of Tacitus, the speakers had then been feigned, not real personages. And it is not so likely that two such should agree in this sentiment: I mean, considering how new and particular it is. For, as to the more common and obvious sentiments, even dramatic speakers will very frequently employ the same, without affording any just reason to conclude that their prompters had turned plagiaries.
· VII. If to this singularity of a sentiment, you add the apparent harshness of it, especially when not gradually prepared (as such sentiments always will be by exact writers, when of their own proper invention), the suspicion grows still stronger. I just glanced at an instance of this sort in Milton's curl'd grove. But there are others still more remarkable. Shall I presume for once to take an instance from yourself?
• Your fine Ode to Memory begins with these very lyrical verses: Mother of Wisdom! Thou whose sway The throng'd ideal hosts obey ; Who bidst their ranks now vanish, now ap
pear, Flame in the van, and darken in the rear.
This sublime imagery has a very original air. Yet I, who know how familiar the best ancient and modern critics are to you, have no doubt that it is taken from STRADA.,
***** Quid accommodatius, says he, speaking of your subject, Memory, quàm simulachrorum ingentes copias, tanquàm addictam ubique tibi sacramento militiam, eo inter se nexu ac fide conjunctam cohærentemque habere ; . ut siveunumquodque separatim, sive confertim universa, sive singula ordinatim in aciem proferre velis; nihil planè in tantâ rerum herbâ turbetur, sed alia procul atque in recessu sita prodeuntibus locum cedant; alia, se tota confestim promant atque in medium certò evocata prosiliant ? Hoc tam magno, tam fido domesticorum agmine instructus animus, &c.” .
. Prol. Acad. I.
Common writers know little of the art of preparing their ideas, or believe the very name of an Ode absolves them from the care of art. But, if this uncommon sentiment had been intirely your own, you, I imagine, would have dropped some leading idea to introduce it.
IX. You see with what a suspicious eye, we who aspire to the name of critics, examine your writings. But every poet will not endure to be scrutinized so narrowly. .
1. B. Jonson, in his Prologue to the Sad Shepherd, is opening the subject of that poem. The sadness of his shepherd is For his lost Love, who in the Trent is said.
To have miscarried; 'las? what knows the head . Of a calm river, whom the feet have drown'd!
· The reflexion in this place is unnecessary and even impertinent. Who besides ever heard of the feet of a river? Of arms, we have. And so it stood in Jonson's original. Greatest and fairest Empress, know you this, Alas! no more than Thames' calm head doth
know Whose meads his arms drown, or whose corn o'erflow.
The poet is speaking of the corruption of the courts of justice, and the allusion is perfectly fine and natural. Jonson was tempted to bring it into his prologue by the mere beauty of the sentiment. He had à river at · his disposal, and would not let slip the oppor. tunity. But “ his unnatural use” of it detects his “ imitation."
2. I don't know whether you have taken notice of a miscarriage, something like this, in the most judicious of all the poets.