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dominant quality of the writer. Thus a fort and compact, and a diffused and flowing expression are the proper consequences of certain corresponding characters of the human genius. One has a vigorous comprehensive conception, and therefore collects his sense into few words. Another, whose imagination is more languid, contemplates his objects leisurely, and so difplays their beauties in a greater compass of words, and with more circumstance and
parade of language. : A polite and elegant · humour delights in the grace of ease and
perspicuity. A fevere: and melancholic spirit inspires a forcible, but involved expression. There are many other nicer differences and peculiarities of manner, which, though not reducible, perhaps, to general heads, the critic of true taste easily understands.
2. As men of different tempers and difpositions assume a different cast of expresiion, so may the same observation be applied, ftill more generally, to different countries and times. It may be difficult to explain the efficient causes of this diversity,
which I have no concern with at present. The fazt is, that the eloquence of the eastern world has, at all times, been of another strain from that of the western. And, also, in the several provinces of each, there has been some peculiar note of variation. The Afiatic, of old, had its proper stamp, which diftinguished it from the Attic; juft as the Italian, French, and Spanish wits have, each, their several characteristic manners of expression. - A different state of times has produced the like effect; which a late writer accounts for, not unaptly, from what he calls a progresion of life and manners. That which cannot be disputed is, that the modes of writing undergo a perpetual change or variation in every country. And it is further observable, that these changes in one country, under similar circumstances, have a signal correspondence to those, which the inceffant rotation of taste brings about in every other.
Of near affinity to this last consideration is another, arising from the corresponding genius of two people, however remote from
each other in time and place. And, as it happens, the application may be made directly to ourselves in a very important instance. “Languages, says one, always take .“ their character from the genius of a peo
« ple. So that two the most distant states, 66 thinking and acting with the same gene« rous love of mankind, muft needs have “ very near the same combinations of ideas. " And it is our boast, that in this con"formity we, approach the nearest to an66 tient Greece and Italy.” I quote these words from a tract [s], which the author perhaps may consider with the fame neglect, as Cicero did his earlier compositions on Rhetoric; but which the curious will regard with reverence, as a fine essay of his genius, and a prelude to the great things he was afterwards leen capable of producing. But to come to the use we may make of this fine observation. The corresponding state of the English and Roman people has produced very near the same combinations of ideas. May we not carry
[s] A Critical and Philosophical Inquiry into the causes of prodigies and miracles, &c. p. 130.
the conclusion 'still further on the same
But let it suffice to leave these remarks without further comment or explanation.
The use the discerning reader will make of them, is, that if different writers agree in the same general disposition, or in the fame
natianal chara&ler; live together in the
same period of time; or in corresponding i periods of the progrespon of manners, or are
under the influence of a corresponding "ig genius of policy and government ; in every
of these cases, fome considerable similarity of expression may be occasioned by the agency of general principles, without any suspicion of studied or designed imitation.
, 11. An identity of phrase and di&tion is a much surer note of plagiarism. For considering the vast variety of words, which any language, and especially the more copious ones furnish, and the infinite pofsible combinations of them into all the forms of phraseology, it would be very strange, if two persons should hit on the same identical terms, and much more should they agree in the same precise arrangement of them in whole sentences.
There is no defending coincidences of this kind ; and, whatever writers themselves may pretend, or their friends for them, no one can doubt a moment of such identity being a clear and decisive proof of imitation.